Wednesday, May 09, 2012

On Mr Swenson's workshop in Munich by Yoga Bee.

Yoga Bee is my guest blogger today. I'm very happy that she had found the time to write about the workshop with Mr Swenson here in Munich. Enjoy: 

"Activate where necessary, relax where possible."-- David Swenson

For 10 days, David Swenson was here in Munich giving workshops and a teaching intensive. I was fortunate to be able to attend both. Years before I had even heard of Ashtanga yoga, a friend lent me David´s practice manual, so getting to met him in person was almost like meeting Santa Claus himself.

David is light-hearted and easy-going, a great comedian and story-teller. He has an incredible amount of knowledge and experience and shares this openly with his students. He has a way of speaking in images, making what he is trying to convey easy to understand.

One of the images that comes to mind, is David´s comparison of a cat verses a dog in flight. During the first workshop which focused upon "Flying, Floating and Handstands" David discussed the issue of Bandhas in jumping back and jumping through. The problem, he said, is not with flying, but rather landing. Often we place too much focus on activation of Bandhas, as if this will miraculously enable us to jump through or jump back. While the use of Bandhas may help to give some control, they don´t actually make you lighter. To drive home his point, David compared the image of a falling cat with that of a falling dog. Simple observation of a cat being dropped with its feet in the air, shows that the cat remains supple and relaxed during the flight. The cat activates only the bare minimum of muscles, turning the legs towards the earth just at the exact moment. Timing. Breath. And a focus on the moment of landing. Dogs in comparison, freak out. They panic and as a result tighten every muscle in the body. My guess is that they also stop breathing. When practicing jump throughs, jump backs, or any other form of handstands, the hands become the feet, the finger become the toes. David´s advice: activate where necessary, relax where possible and put your awareness on the part of your body on the ground. (ie, focus on hands and arms, not feet and legs.) From personal experience in dealing with the fear of handstands, although it may be natural to tighten the legs, getting them to relax is the key. During this workshop David also pointed out a remarkable anatomical fact: the legs are attached to the hips(!) Jump from the hips and allow the legs to relax. The legs will follow. Try to find the balance between too much and too little energy when practicing yoga, (or any thing else in your life.) Do it like a cat:-)

David plans to return to Munich in 2014. If you have the opportunity to attend, I can highly recommend it. 

1 comment:

Robyn said...

This is wonderful! I love the cat/dog comparison. David Swenson is a treasure...